Personal Excellence Program


This was the official website for promoting the Personal Excellence Program (PEP) developed at biotechnology company Genentech in 2002 by CIO Todd Pierce and his coach, Pamella Weiss.
content is from the site's archived pages as well as other sources.

To learn more about this extraordinary training program go to their current website:


The Personal Excellence Program

Since 2006, the team at Appropriate Response has worked with over 650 employees at every level within the IT and Manufacturing departments within Genentech through the Personal Excellence Program (PEP.) PEP offers a comprehensive structure of personalized development over one year, including facilitated groups, individual coaching, communities of support and feedback, and the cultivation of peer coaching skills


“I’ve taken dozens of training programs.
But what PEP does is different—it teaches us how to learn!”
Munther Megdadi, Chief
Architect IT, Genentech


PEP begins with the premise that people are whole, not broken. By fully integrating the intellectual (head), emotional (heart) and somatic (body) intelligence, PEP is able to tap into people’s wholehearted engagement, helps them cultivate self-awareness, and supports them to develop mastery through embodied practice.
More than 800 Genentech employees have so far completed this program (primarily in the IT department) and it has dramatically improved employee engagement
This includes:
• 10-20% increase in employee satisfaction
• 12% increase in customer satisfaction;
• 50% percent improvement in employee communication, collaboration, conflict management and coaching; and
• 77% of PEP participants reported “significant measurable business impact” as a result of participating in PEP. This is almost three times the norm (25–30%), compared to dozens of similar programs studied.

In terms of a return on investment, evaluators found the program conservatively produced an estimated $1.50 to $2 for every dollar spent to deliver PEP.
“I thought PEP might be a strategy for people to develop a skill or quality,” said Pierce. “But what I see is that it is a strategy to help them be life-long learners and to increase their capacity for personal development and personal satisfaction in every area of their life.”
The PEP program takes place over a ten month period and includes three large group workshops, eight facilitated small group meetings, three individual coaching sessions and monthly peer coaching.

Participants choose a topic to focus on that is important to them, observe them selves in real time to gain insight and self-awareness, and then practice new behaviors to establish new habits and develop mastery.
Deliberate practice is the most significant indicator of success and this requires steady, consistent repetition over time, until new behaviors take root in the body as a new habit.
Mindfulness is about paying attention. It is about learning to observe one self in the context of day-to-day life to enable new insights and begin seeing yourself more clearly. The result is you can then make wiser choices. Increasing this self-awareness helps you cultivate the ability to act rather than react, enabling you to become response-able—even in the midst of high-stress situations.

“I think what makes PEP so successful is less about what we do than it is about the attitude we bring to how we do it,” says Weiss. “When we start from a place of beginner’s mind, and add a big dose of curiosity, patience and appreciation, learning happens because as human beings we are wired to learn and grow. In many ways, it comes down to doing less and trusting more in our innate capacities and vast potential.”
Leadership development programs should provide tangible, long lasting results and a program like PEP that engages the heart, mind and body is an example of one that appears to work.
Rather than seek a one-off, one-day solution for developing leaders in your organization, look for a longer term program with dynamic involvement that includes mindfulness and disciplined practice for changing behavior. Only then will you have a significant return on investment measured not only in dollars, but also in more engaged human capital.

Real world view: My business partner was very pro PEP. I was a bit more reserved. However we were about to start a new e commerce business and thought if increasing myself-awareness helps me cultivate the ability to act rather than react, thus enabling me to become response-able, even in the midst of high-stress situations, hey I'll give it a try. Our business was to take the "seconds" from our textile printing manufacturing plant and create, as my young daughter would say, adorable dog beds. The fabrics were high end designer seconds that normally would not be useable for yardage for drapes or upholstery. But using the fabric to make dog beds that would look good even in one's living room, would be perfect. And our offer would be for each to be a luxury round dog bed pillow to attract the price conscious dog owner. If I liked the results from our PEP program I thought we could also do PEP workshops for our printing mill. Update: PEP really did make a difference in the way I approach all aspects of my life, both business and personal. I have recommended this leadership development program to other business associates. And our dog bed business is doing exceptionally well.


The Practice of Personal Excellence
A Radical Approach to Organizational Transformation

Every year companies spend billions of dollars on training and development, trying to help their people become more engaged, more innovative, and better leaders. Training programs excel in introducing new ideas and perspectives, delivering feedback and assessment data, and teaching basic skills. But many organizations still face a conundrum: how to inspire learning and development that is truly transformational and lasting?

Developing a person is not the same as building a product or delivering a project on time—human beings grow in organic, dynamic ways.

What is needed is a process for human development that actively teaches people how to learn and grow.

The Challenge: Creating a Culture
In 2006, Pamela Weiss, an executive coach and founder of Appropriate  Response, was teaching meditation and mindfulness to employees in Genentech’s Information Technology department. Classes were consistently full and had created a buzz within the department.

Todd Pierce, then Senior VP of the department, saw an opportunity. “We are a company dedicated to discovery and innovation,” he told Pam, “I want to create a culture of human development within my organization. Let’s build on the principles of coaching and mindfulness to create something really different.”

The challenge was clear: to translate the wisdom of meditation and mindfulness into a pragmatic set of principles and practices that would radically transform the fast-paced world of corporate technology.

PEP was developed in response to this challenge.

"The Personal Excellence Program (PEP) created by Appropriate Response is a significant step beyond what most development programs offer.

PEP has brought sustained individual growth and a vibrant learning culture to my organization. Through PEP, we are now smarter, more agile and more responsive. There is greater collaboration across functions, customer relationships have improved, employee engagement is noticeably higher, and we are better positioned to respond to change and lead technological innovation."

—Todd Pierce,
Senior Vice President
and Chief Information Officer,



International Coach Federation (ICF) Prism Award 2010
Genentech Awarded 2010 ICF International Prism Award

LEXINGTON, KY -- (Marketwire) -- 10/13/10 -- One of the world's leading biotech companies and Norway's largest dairy group are the recipients of the 2010 ICF International Prism Award which honors their commitment to coaching as a leadership strategy to accomplish business goals.
Biotech industry leader Genetech, acquired by the Roche Group in March 2009, and private dairy company the TINE Group will be recognized in an awards luncheon at the ICF Annual International Conference in Fort Worth, Texas, Oct. 27.

"The Prism, our most prestigious award, is granted to those who invest time, energy and finances into making coaching an integral part of their business culture," said 2010 ICF President and Master Certified Coach Giovanna D'Alessio. "Both Genetech and the TINE Group have implemented exemplary coaching programs which have resulted in improved business performance. We are privileged to honor their success."

Through the vision of CIO Todd Pierce, in 2007 Genetech implemented a cutting-edge approach to coaching through the Personal Excellence Program (PEP) which today has offered coaching to more than 400 employees at every level within the IT department at the company's headquarters office in South San Francisco, California, United States. With the intention to "create a culture of coaching and development," PEP has succeeded in increasing employee productivity and customer satisfaction, improving employee communication and making a significant, measurable business impact. PEP is conservatively producing an estimated 1.5 to 2 dollars for every dollar spent to deliver PEP, an impact study concluded.
"Through PEP, we have created a smarter, more agile and more responsive organization," said Genetech CIO Todd Pierce. "There is greater collaboration across functions, customer relationships have improved, employee engagement is noticeably higher, and we are better positioned to respond to change and lead technological innovation."
ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. Coaching is a distinct service and differs greatly from therapy, consulting, mentoring or training. Individuals who engage in a coaching relationship can expect to experience fresh perspectives on personal challenges and opportunities, enhanced thinking and decision-making skills, enhanced interpersonal effectiveness, and increased confidence in carrying out their chosen work and life roles.

The International Coach Federation is the leading global organization for coaches, with over 16,000 members in more than 100 countries, dedicated to advancing the coaching profession by setting high ethical standards, providing independent certification, and building a worldwide network of credentialed coaches. The ICF is the only organization that awards a global credential which is currently held by more than 6,600 coaches worldwide.